- The Washington Times - Friday, January 7, 2005

Nobles: The American people, for offering their money and their prayers to the tsunami victims.

Some world diplomats and pundits just couldn’t help but turn the disaster in Southeast Asia and Africa into a moment to criticize the United States. Thus U.N. bureaucrat Jan Egeland’s claim that the U.S. response to the tsunami was “stingy.” Thus the mainstream media (i.e., the New York Times) faults President Bush for not giving enough face time to the cameras right after the tidal wave struck.

Meanwhile, the American people watched in horror as the full extent of the catastrophe unfolded and did something not at all uncharacteristic: They opened their pocket books. The Chronicle of Philanthropy has reported that by the end of the week private donations to American charities have totaled more than $300 million, or just $50 million less than the U.S. government and many times more than what individual European governments have pledged. This isn’t to bash other nations’ citizens — indeed, the whole world has come together on this — but critics of American giving must be answered with something rather extraordinary in contemporary debate: the facts.

Just before the Dec. 26 disaster, the New York Times editorialized as a shame that the United States spends $450 billion annually on the military and just $15 billion on development aid to poor countries. Let’s have columnist Charles Krauthammer field this one: “We are six percent or less of the world’s population, yet we give almost half [of all development aid] … Secondly, we maintain a military structure that keeps the peace of the world … Who is in the Indian Ocean with the aircraft carriers, helicopters, skilled personnel? No one has the infrastructure in the world, we spend almost half a trillion dollars a year on our military structure, which is essentially the fire department of the planet and it is always at the disposal of people hit in a national disaster.” Well said, Mr. Krauthammer.

Still, it’s unfortunate that any of this has to be said. The fact is that the American people are the most giving people in the world and always have been.

For their “stinginess,” the American people are the Nobles of the week.

Knaves: Sen. Ted Kennedy, for his petty pontificating against Alberto Gonzales.

2004’s Knave of the year runner-up must have felt shortchanged after losing out to George Soros. Mr. Kennedy burst onto the 2005 stage as red-faced and blustery as ever during his questioning of Mr. Gonzales, Mr. Bush’s nominee for attorney general. One particular point in his “question,” however, deserves special attention.

Mr. Kennedy: “Now, [The Washington] Post article states you [Mr. Gonzales] chaired several meetings at which various interrogation techniques were discussed. These techniques included the threat of live burial and water boarding, whereby the detainee is strapped to a board, forcibly pushed under water, wrapped in a wet towel and made to believe he might drown.”

For failing to see the irony, Mr. Kennedy is the Knave of the week.